WeareWISE is a personal and professional development program founded in 2015 by Lisa Issroff and the Issroff Family Foundation to provide smart, young women working in the social sector with access to growth opportunities and a community of peers. The program is hosted at the Issroff Family Foundation’s offices in Manhattan’s Financial District.

Over the course of the yearlong program, WeareWISE members attend monthly peer-led learning sessions that cover a variety of topics selected by discussion leaders. These sessions are typically two hours in length. Topics range, but are always in the spirit of sharing best practices for personal evolution and professional success. Items like metrics, networking, negotiating pay and work-life integration have previously been discussed in the group. In addition to monthly learning sessions, both current and alumni WeareWISE members are invited to attend WeareWISE’s quarterly speaker series, Community Conversations, with experienced women leaders to discuss additional topics as well as to participate in informal WeareWISE social gatherings.

Benefits of Participation

● Engagement in an active network of women in the social sector.
● Access to personalized problem solving through monthly sessions.
● Access to experienced leaders in the field.
● Professional development opportunities around career advancement.
● Development of presentation and discussion facilitation skills.
● Social activities, including annual day-long celebration.

Expectation for Involvement

● Commit as an active member for a full year, attending ALL monthly peer-led learning circles.
● Facilitate one meeting on a topic of individual choice.
● Respect confidentiality and create a safe space.
● Engage in building a community and network including being active in post-program activities.
● Attend quarterly Community Conversations (optional).

Membership Criteria

● Demonstrated involvement or interest in the social sector
● Desire for personal and professional development outside of the workplace
● Interest in joining and helping to develop a supportive community
● 3+ years professional experience
● Ideally not a founder of an organization


WeareWISE welcomes a new cohort of 8-12 women twice a year. This group is carefully curated based on recommendations from previous WeareWISE participants and selected individuals within IFF’s network. The formal process for recruitment begins with a written application, comprised mainly of biographical details and reasons for wanting to join the network. The recruitment process also includes a conversation with Lisa Issroff as well as a conversation with a member of the WeareWISE alumni network. All potential members are furnished with the one pager detailing membership expectations to which they must be able to commit and a tentative meeting schedule.

Overview of IFF

The Issroff Family Foundation was established in 2007 by David and Lisa Issroff to provide support for children in Southern Africa, Israel and New York City. With a focus on uplifting the lives of children and youth in order to realize their full potential, IFF has worked with grantee partners to increase access to education, encourage entrepreneurship, and foster opportunity. In addition to direct grantee support, IFF is deeply invested in building community and networks. This includes informal community building between IFF grantees and other funders in the sector as well as more formal groups such as WeareWISE and the Tri-State Area Africa Funders.

WeareWISE Member Profile